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I have a dream!

March 14th, 2011

Thirty one months ago I came to the United States. This momentous event came as a great beacon light of hope to me, a person who had seared in the flames of English language. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of my captivity as from that moment I would be able to learn and decode American cookbooks.

But 2 years and a half later I’m still not free. Two years and a half later my life is still sadly crippled by the manacles of metric system and chains of pounds and ounces!!!

I’m not kidding here! English was a rouge barrier in my life and of course there is still a lot to learn, but when it comes to cooking and baking, I feel like chained by the metrics.  Especially in baking, where everything is so precise.

Whereas in the United States everything comes in pounds, ounces, gallons, quarters, inches, yards and so, in Brazil and in most of the entire whole word the measures are defined by kilos, grams, liters, milliliters, centimeters and meters. And believe me, I just had to look at the dictionary for those words.

To give an example, a pound equals 450milligrams while an ounce is 28.35g.  What are these numbers?? And did I mention the shorthand? I understand pound is represented by lb, what stands for Libra, but oz for ounce?? Come on!! What’s the “z” for? (Are you curious?)

I have conversion tables everywhere in my kitchen. Even a fridge magnet that a friend gave me and is probably one of the best gifts I got recently. But it is not just that. Writing down my recipes for the blog requires a lot of mental work and calculus when I start to consider the amount of ingredients.

I think the best example is butter. Most of the recipes call for an x numbers of butter sticks. It can be very helpful here, where you usually buy butter by the pound. Easy, since a package contains 4 sticks (113g each!!!). But in Brazil butter is sold by bars of 200g each or 0.444444444lb. It’s not 1 stick, 1 ½ or two, it’s a crazy number that makes me tired just to think about it!

It’s the same with the reverse process. I developed the recipe for this post a few years ago using milligrams, inspired by a similar tart sold in a fancy bakery in Brazil called Mister Cuca. It came out surprisingly good and I was very proud of my creation. And after blowing my mind measuring one ingredient while cutting another, I finally got it converted.

And so even though I face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream!!!!

I have a dream that, one day, all the world will be using the same metric system!!

To make the dough, sift together flour and cocoa powder. Cream the butter and sugar until pale in color. Add egg yolk and mix well. Mix dry ingredients by hand, carefully, until everything comes together. Don’t overwork the dough. Cover with film roll and set on the fridge for 15 minutes.

Graze 4 4-inch tart pan or used non-stick ones. Divide the dough in 4 pieces and spread each one evenly on the bottom and sides of the pan.

Heat the oven to 325˚F. Cover the pans with parchment paper and fill them with beans.

Bake for 10 minutes, take off the beans and bake for 8-10 more minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes and unmold.

To make banana filling, mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook stirring constantly until starting to boil. Turn heat off and let it cool before using.

For pastry cream boil milk in a small saucepan. Meanwhile mix together in another bowl egg yolk, sugar and corn starch. Pour the milk into the egg mixture gradually. Return the mixture to the pan and cook until thick stirring constantly. Turn of the heat, add vanilla extract and butter.

Stir well to incorporate the butter. Cover with film roll touching the cream surface. It avoids any undesirable crust to form on top of the cream. Let it cool completely before using.

To make ganache boil the cream using a microwave or a small saucepan. Add chocolate and light corn syrup and let it aside for 5 minutes or until the chocolate gets melted. Mix until incorporated and finish with rum, if desired. Tip: don’t overmix the ganache to avoid bubble and to get an even frosting. Use right way or keep on the fridge. Warm it again before using.

Cover the bottom of each crust with banana filling and pour a full tbsp off pastry cream over it. While ganache is still liquid, pour it over the pastry cream slighting turning the crust around to get an flat frosting.

Set on the fridge for at least two hours before serving.

9 Responses to “I have a dream!”

  1. Mika

    Chocolate crust, pastry cream, banana and ganache…wow
    I understand your difficulties…I’m italian but I am obsessed with american recipes and every time I have to make a recipe I have to convert cups pounds and so on in my metric system…every time I have to calculate how much butter there is in two tbsp of butter, how many grams are 2 pounds of flour and so on…I made that so many times that now I have to remember them but I simply don’t…

  2. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    I have the same dream 🙂 Until then I’ll be using my calculator and digital scale to convert the best I can.

  3. Marcella

    Beautiful pictures!

    I am from California but am currently studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, and I am having the same problem!! I love to bake (just as a hobby) but I am struggling converting recipes from the American measuring system to the metric system. Also, the house I live in does not have temperatures marked on the oven, so I just have to guess 🙁 I will admit, though, the metric system is WAY easier to use, and I don’t understand why the U.S. doesn’t use it! Get with the program, guys!!!

  4. Mariana

    Amanda, the other day I read a post by this american girl that moved to Brazil and started a home bakery, she was declaring her love for our metric system. My thoughts were… this is not fair!!! I wish I could fall in love for this their system too, but no way! every time I try is so exhausting!!! and he’s such a weirdo…

    Loved you text and your recipe, as always!!!

  5. Damaris

    me too. i wish everyone used kilograms and kitchen scales.

  6. Kelly

    I agree with you! My head hurts just thinking about conversions! I’ve had to convert many recipes, I feel your pain – as a matter of fact, I was just converting yesterday, uuuggg.
    Great post! Bananas, chocolate and pastry cream is a match made in pastry heaven! I love chocolate crusts. The B & W pics are beautiful.

  7. Julie Marie

    love. omg your photos really do amaze me every time. so creative and unique.

  8. lisa welch

    You are brilliant! Do a cookbook!! I love your writing and your beautiful photographs…and of course the recipes.

  9. amanda areias

    A cookbook is a dream. Maybe one day, who knows!! Thanks again!

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